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Sleeping with the Enemy: The Bluejays of Creighton

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After losing a pair of games to end 2017, your Georgetown Hoyas beat DePaul Tuesday and established themselves as an undefeated in 2018 powerhouse. The Hoyas are looking to get a streak going to start the new year and their next test comes Saturday at home against Creighton. To help you re-familiarize yourself with the Bluejays, we have our friends from White and Blue Review, a great source for all things related to Creighton sports. You can follow them on Twitter @whitebluereview.

Creighton! How’s the season gone so far? From the outside, the team looks pretty solid.

I think if most folks zoomed out and took a look at how the season has gone compared to their preseason predictions it’s been a fairly solid start for the Jays. Northwestern and Baylor aren’t doing nearly as well as many thought at this point, so the non-conference might be stronger in name value and on paper than it actually is based on performance and various metrics.

The losses to Baylor, Gonzaga, and Seton Hall all featured second half collapses. Specifically the setbacks against the Bears and Pirates, those are games you can argue that Creighton not only could have, but *should* have won. All that said, the team is 12-3 which I’m sure 99% of the fan base would have gladly taken through 15 games had you told them that on Halloween.

Who have the Bluejays been relying on to keep them in games this season?

The pecking order starts with Marcus Foster on offense, Khyri Thomas on defense, Martin Krampelj and Ronnie Harrell with their energy in the open floor and on the backboards, and true freshmen in Ty-Shon Alexander and Mitch Ballock filling behind those guys. Toby Hegner provides a big-bodied veteran presence defensively and someone who can stretch the defense on the offensive end. The last major part of the rotation is starting point guard Davion Mintz. His play has been a bit up and down, but he’s still part of that 8-man core that Greg McDermott trusts night in and night out.

Overall, what have been the biggest strengths and weaknesses for the Jays?

The team has relies on pace and space and IQ offensively. They have a ton of firepower on the perimeter as well as guys who can really put a lot of pressure on the rim with slips, back cuts, and straight up dribble penetration when they get a mismatch for Foster, Thomas, or Harrell.

Defensively, it comes down to executing the scouting report and cleaning up on the defensive glass. The Bluejays are going to allow points as a byproduct of their tempo, but they lean on being assignment sound with Khyri Thomas leading the way as one of the best one-on-one defenders in the nation, and the icing on the cake has been their improvement in defensive rebounding. Last year the Bluejays were last in the Big East in defensive rebounding percentage. This year they lead the league in that category thanks in large part to the emergence of Krampelj and Harrell.

The Jays have done a pretty good job getting guys into the NBA in recent years with Justin Patton and Doug McDermott. Do you see anyone on the current squad getting drafted?

Right now the only player showing up on mock draft boards is Khyri Thomas, who projects as mid-to-late first rounder at this point if he decides to come out after his junior season.

I also think Marcus Foster, and to a lesser extent Martin Krampelj, have exhibited NBA level athleticism and skill, but they may have a more unconventional route to getting an opportunity at the professional level.

How do you think Patrick Ewing has done with the Hoyas so far?

I’ve actually been pretty impressed with Ewing’s coaching so far aside from that cupcake factory of a non-conference schedule he put together. He’s essentially two possessions away from putting Syracuse and Butler in the win column, and they certainly looked like the better team for much of those two contests.

He appears to be willing to open things and play a more free-flowing style of basketball, but he also looks to be a disciplinarian as well when it comes to getting guys to play the right way. Those are good qualities to have, so I’m on board with the hire just as much as I was when it was first made. He’ll get the Hoyas back to a more familiar place in the college basketball pecking order.

Omaha is known for its steaks. Please describe your ideal steak dinner in as much detail as possible.

I am a man of simple taste. An ideal steak should be juicy and properly seasoned. If you need steak sauce for flavor or a buzzsaw to cut into it then you might as well serve it to the dog.

What’s the dumbest argument you have ever gotten into?

Wow. That’s a long list and I’m constantly adding to it.

We’re getting to award season for movies. Have you had the chance to see any good ones lately?

I have, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi is not one of them. That was movie was a steaming pile of garbage. It did for the Star Wars franchise what Craig Esherick did for Georgetown hoops as its head coach.

Final score prediction?

I think it’s going to be an up and down game with Creighton holding on for the win behind the veterans I talked about earlier.

Jays 88, Hoyas 81.